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  • Writer's pictureJeffrey Burke

Leveling the Playing Field in Axe Throwing

In the past year the inevitable has happened within the sport of axe throwing. The number of highly skilled players has grown immensely and less experienced players have no chance against them in competition. To deal with this issue both of the major organizations have created a new league designed specifically for these highly skilled players. (The Pro League and the Premier League more precisely). Both of these advanced leagues play by the same rules as before with changes to the target to make the gameplay much more difficult for the throwers. The advanced leagues are great, but there may be other options available to level the playing field during match play without creating an entire new league.

The big problem with changing the targets, aside from the logistical issues of the venues needing new stencils, is that the lower skilled players must now compete on a much more difficult target that was designed for the more skilled throwers. The lower skilled and experienced throwers are now even further from the level of the advanced players. Another issue that has come up is the need to measure during a match to ensure a throw is indeed a good throw or not. These changes slow down the game and tend to cause a fair amount of frustration in the competitors.

One option to recreating and redesigning the target is to create a target layout that can be used for both the high level as well as the lower-level players competing against each other. The simplest way to do this would be to use the common designs already in use in tournament and league play and add a smaller bullseye and clutch/Killshot inside the existing ones that the more skilled player must hit for the same number of points. While the newer less experienced players can still get the same number of points for hitting the old size areas.

Another option would be to take a cue from the sport of golf, who uses a handicap system to level the playing field for players with varying skill. One way to calculate a handicap in axe throwing is to use the players overall weekly average subtracted from a perfect score. For the two players with a match against each other you can subtract the players average from perfect to get the match handicap.


In the example below we are using a target with a maximum score of 84 points in a 10-throw match. The example also uses the 3 matches to determine the players average, ideally this will be calculated based on the previous matches thrown in league play going into each week. The players handicap will then be adjusted each week as needed.

Ashley Jeffrey

Game 1 42 58

Game 2 28 66

Game 3 24 74

Average 31.33 66

Difference of the two AVG’s

66-31.33= 34.67

(since fractions do not count in matches the difference is rounded up or down)

Ashley gets a 35 point handicap in the matches

Ashley Score with Handicap Jeffrey

Game 1 42+35 (76) 58

Game 2 28+35 (63) 66

Game 3 24+35 (59) 74

One advantage to using a Handicap system is that it will allow some of the smaller venues who do not have enough highly skilled players to start a separate league to continue leagues with a mix of both the highly skilled as well as new throwers. Perhaps the participants in the major tournaments instead of just winning in the advanced leagues and tournaments throughout the year will be required to have a low handicap to be eligible.

If you have other ideas on how to help level the playing field in competitive axe throwing we would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!!

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